BARCELONA

Dembele injury error to provoke witch hunt at Barcelona

The Camp Nou medical department, for so long one of the club's most respected areas, has made a series of mistakes this season and Bartomeu may take action.

Dembele injury error to provoke witch hunt at Barcelona

Ousmane Dembélé’s latest injury setback exemplifies the level of confusion and the number of errors that have characterized the running of FC Barcelona over the past few months. The medical department at Camp Nou was once the jewel in the crown of the club but has now been the subject of a string of bizarre decisions that has battered the reputation it had forged over so many years.

Last Monday, during the morning training session, the France international retired early when he felt a tweak in his problematic hamstring. That set alarms bells ringing: it was the same area that he had injured two months earlier and that he was on the verge of recovering from to return to first team action. Initial tests including a sonographic scan ruled out a tear and suggested Dembélé was suffering from muscle fatigue, leading to a soothing club statement that the player was continuing with his recovery process.

However, Dembélé called the club delegate the following day as he was still in pain and he could hardly put weight on the afflicted leg. More tests followed and with some surprise the Barça doctors saw the results of another scan showed a “complete proximal hamstring tear” in the player’s thigh, ruling him out for the season. That the extent of the injury was missed in the first set of tests did not reflect well on the usually dependable medical department.

Barcelona's medical department facing Bartomeu's wrath

Dembélé was understandably distraught as he was so close to a comeback after a 10-week layoff and had been told it was a minor setback and he should be fine in a couple of weeks. Mistakes like that lead to mistrust between players and the club’s doctors.

Barcelona’s fitness and rehabilitation personnel have also been under the microscope this season with several players suffering setbacks when they were close to being passed fully fit. Leo Messi spent a month on the sidelines at the start of the season due to a badly handled recovery programme. And now the same has happened with Dembélé, with much more serious consequences.

The communication department has also been accused of obfuscating information, with some medical reports being delivered in crisp and straight language, while others have been shrouded in disinformation and confusing wording.

It is not unlikely that heads will roll in the medical section sooner rather than later. Ramon Canal, the head of the department, has his share of problems and was given a dressing down at a meeting of Barça’s medical staff and upper management on Tuesday. It remains to be seen whether Josep Maria Bartomeu decides to make sweeping changes or not after the latest error has left Barça playing catch-up for the rest of the season after the recruitment department also dropped the ball in January.